Children in a garden watering plants
Santa Clara County Office of Education Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan writes that in an era where climate change is top of mind for young people, their families and educators, the need for accessible, reliable and actionable information is paramount. Photo courtesy of Santa Clara County Office of Education.

In an era where climate change is top of mind for many young people, their families and educators, the need for accessible, reliable and actionable information is paramount, since emissions of greenhouse gasses such as methane and carbon occurs from day-to-day activities like driving a car and using energy to cook.

Many youth want to learn how to reduce their carbon footprint and promote climate-resilient schools, as recommended in this 2023 report. The Santa Clara County Office of Education continues this work and leads a robust Growing Gardens Initiative that promotes outdoor education and climate literacy instruction.

The office of education hosted its third annual Environmental Literacy Summit in April where youth, educators and community leaders gathered to share information and promote action. A few of the Environmental Literacy Summit sessions included “Empowered Educators: Harnessing the Power of Storytelling to Address Climate Change in the Classroom” by Dr. Kelley Le, “Environmental Issues and Solutions in Schools and the Greater Community” by Justin Gorman and “A Toolkit for Youth-Led Climate Education in Public High Schools” presented by youth leaders from Fremont Union High School District’s Climate Collective.

Key partners that joined the Environmental Literacy Summit included Silicon Valley Clean Energy, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority and the Walden West Foundation. Mineta Transportation Institute, Living Classroom, Marine Science Institute, Environmental Volunteers, Climate Resilient Communities, Green Ninja, Sierra Club-Loma Prieta and Community for Natural Play Surfaces also collaborated as exhibitors.

Another partner who joined the summit was, a free, innovative platform that provides the latest updates, analyses and practical solutions to combat carbon emissions and foster a sustainable future. and its companion NoCarbonNews were created by volunteers who recognized the value of a centralized hub of climate-related information. Believing that knowledge is power, these volunteers created a platform to empower a diverse audience, including youth, concerned citizens, businesses and policymakers. These resources offer data-driven insights, policy recommendations and a wide range of content aimed to facilitate informed decision-making and actions at local, national and global levels.

News articles and feature stories provide context and perspectives from leading voices in the climate community. The guides and tutorials suggest climate-resilient measures to green our homes, reduce our carbon footprint or advocate for climate action. Additionally, a suite of interactive tools and resources, such as carbon footprint calculators and renewable energy maps promote learning, research and practices.

By harnessing the power of information and collective efforts, we can overcome the greatest challenge of our time and build a more sustainable, equitable and resilient world for future generations.

San José Spotlight columnist Mary Ann Dewan is the superintendent of schools for Santa Clara County. She has more than 33 years of experience in the field of education. Her columns appear every third Monday of the month.

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